As one can see, I am behind in posting. Life is more than crowded these days and my moments to post are consistently replaced with day-to-day work and home responsibilities. I am determined to get to a point where posting becomes a part of my week, as I know all too well that my memory will fail me if I do not record my thoughts along the way of this amazing Teach Social First journey. I am very grateful that Kristan has already figured this out and does a great job of keeping the “journey” alive. Thanks Kristan!
Now, thinking back:
1. I am a social thinker. I continuously think about others and consider their perspectives. I have been blessed with both the desire and natural ability to think about others. What I am realizing now is that this is not necessarily the case for those around me. While most adults do understand how and why to be considerate of others, the connection of their actions and words to the feelings and thoughts of others is somewhat short circuited. The general thought process is that we are responsible for what we say and do, not for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others. Social thinking challenges this. We can determine what someone thinks and feels about us by what we say and do. Our words and actions can cause good and bad thoughts and feelings in others and towards us. Now while we are not responsible for how a person reacts, the words they use, or the intensity of both, we are responsible for choosing words and actions that make others feel comfortable around us and to feel good about themselves. It is never our job to make others feel uncomfortable. In today’s typically fast-paced day, most of us think, feel, speak and act and move on. Little time is available or given to truly think about how our words and actions “land” on those around us, let alone to think through how to encourage others and validate their thoughts and feelings. We simply must strive to instill this thought process in our students and all adults with whom our students interact. I must also remind myself that this is NOT a new way of thinking for me and is as natural as my next breath. Because of this, I am able to weave this process and mindset into everything I do and every encounter I have with children and adults. It will take time for teachers and assistants to do the same. It is a NEW way of thinking for them and they will need consistent modeling from Kristan and I, as well as our patience, as they learn how to use social thinking techniques in their classrooms. My hope is that over time, this new way of thinking will become a positive and natural occurrence in the classrooms at Perry Harrison. The staff clearly wants to learn and is as open as I could ever hope for in their willingness to support the lessons Kristan and I present. An amazing place to be – figuratively and literally.
2. As the Superflex News Reporter was gathering information for his next Superflex report on the “Thinking About Others” classroom challenge, a 1st grade student asked what they were supposed to do now since they had filled in all of the letters of the challenge and earned their classroom reward, “Do we keep being ‘thinking about others’ kids?” BINGO! This question took me to this: a) YES, that is what this all about! b) kids will need more than a week or two to become thinking about others kids (I really had already made a smart guess about this!), c) these same kids will continue to need rewards in place to help them practice thinking about others, d) teachers will need structured ways to keep reminding their students to think about others, e) teachers and students will continue to see ‘proof’ that thinking about others is a good thing, f) even though “thinking about others” was our first concept and lesson, it will be the central theme for Teach Social First, g) WOW, this student was actually already thinking about what to do with this whole “thinking about others” thing.
3. Following our lesson introducing Superflex and the Unthinkables, a mother stopped to speak with me at my morning crosswalk duty. She wanted me to know that her son had really listened to the lesson because when he was having a difficult time getting “stuck” with something the night before, he said, “Rock Brain is getting me stuck. I have got to defeat him. ” He then got a sticky note, wrote Rock Brain, crossed the words out and stuck it to his forehead :o). Good news for all: it worked!
4. One of our 3rd grade teachers, Heather Bearman (who was instrumental in advocating to get Superflex into the classrooms this year) also stopped to speak me with me at my morning crosswalk duty this past week. She is also a parent of a kindergartener who is receiving the teach Social First lessons this year. As she held her son’s hand, Heather told me how her son had been at his ice hockey practice the night before and the players had thrown out T-shirts. One of them landed close to her son. He picked it up and handed it to a friend sitting nearby (who he knew had not gotten a T-shirt), saying, “I got a T-shirt last week. You can have this one.” Heather quickly told her son that what he did was a big “thinking about others” kid thing to do and that she was very proud of him. Her son smiled as she told me the story and I said, “Superflex and I are also very proud of you. What you did was a very big deal. I hope that you will remember how good it felt for both you and your friend, and be able to think about others again, even when it may be hard to do.” As, Mrs. Bearman walked away, she smiled and said, “I am glad to be seeing this from the parent perspective. It makes me happy to see this as a mom.” I smiled and thought, ‘me, too.’
5. Our assessment for the 3 pilot first grades involves 6 problem solving probes. We will be comparing the following with the pre- and post-probes: students’ ability to identify the problem, solve the problem and justify their solution to the problem. As I was loading the audios onto my laptop, I contemplated how problem solving would accurately assess all that we are trying to do with Teach Social First. Of course, I knew that we had to choose one facet to assess and we had decided problem solving would be an area we thought we could assess with some accuracy. It suddenly occurred to me that “thinking about others” is a constant problem solving process: social problem solving. What is going on? What are others saying or getting ready to do? What do I know about the people I am with right now? What should I say or do to show that I am thinking about others? How do I want them to feel or think about me? What adjustments do I need to make if someone is feeling badly about me? How can I change what others think about me? How can I make others want me to be a part of their group? If we truly are “thinking about others” kids/people, we are constantly volleying these thoughts and considerations in our minds. We are problem solving every situation to determine what we should say and do to keep things going well for ourselves and everyone else in the group. Now, this takes a great deal of work and time, and one can see why many of us opt out and go with the first thought that pops into our heads. Thus Teach Social First – we have to teach others to want to think about others, how to do it, and learn to incorporate problem solving before the social problem, not after.
6. Morning crosswalk duty is a great way to start someone’s day. A kind word or smile could be just what someone needs to manage the school day ahead. It also is a great way to get Superflex updates :o)!
7. Students and teachers will learn how to keep their bodies and brains in the group next week.
I love doing these lessons and by the end of the week, Kristan and I are a well-oiled machine – teaching, laughing, getting into character, having fun, and creating at least 30 minutes of positive ways to want to think about others!